The Personalisation Agenda

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Changes in Social Care; 30th November 2010 (25 people)

By John Walker

There are fundamental shifts in social care policy in the UK, it is part of an ongoing process of change. The Personalisation Agenda is two fold: to give money to people who are in the greatest need and work towards a state of wellness, and to devolve responsibility for the care to those in need. The emphasis has changed; it is no longer a client or patient, they are now customers who manage their Direct Payment to pay invoices from service providers.

Deaf people will remember the days when social care was in the hands of the local missioner, who attended Deaf people's every need. One person reminisced that missioners had two things: a wad of money and a large bunch of keys. They would travel from home to home and use the keys to let themselves in. They took it upon themselves to sort out Deaf people's financial affairs by going to the bank and paying their bills, hence the wad of money.

The Personalisation Agenda is the opposite to Deaf people's history of paternalism. It places Deaf people at the heart of their responsibilities, so they remain in control of every aspect of their lives. One might assume that this is a turn for the better, but the days of missioners are looked at with contempt and fondness; they became our friends and catered our every need from cradle to grave.

The secularisation of social care resulted in a new profession: the social worker. While missioners lost their position, the job description was moved to the social worker by default. It is this legacy that the personalisation agenda is challenging, they are no longer the one stop shop for Deaf people's every needs; all local Government departments are responsible for their services to Deaf people.

Lesley D'Arcy-Garven, Operations Manager - Community Solutions, gave a presentation to the local Deaf community at the November Our Space meeting, it was clear that the focus of social care is firmly with individuals with 'critical' or 'substantial' needs. Social workers, Occupational Therapists and Care Managers will be responsible to assess these needs holistically, with support of an interpreter. If this is not enough, the assessor will be linguistically culturally competent, when required. There are no check lists and prescriptions, the assessor now has to do their 'job'; social workers will now be social working. The Direct Payment scheme will provide the individual with money, paid into a separate business account, to pay for the services that meets their needs. It can be a professional, a relative, a friend - what is important is that the decision is made by the Deaf individual. Haven't we said all along that we know best what we need?

Before every Deaf person request a visit from the social worker for an assessment, having a 'substantial' need is more than not being able to get a job or ability to read a letter. It is where a person is of serious vulnerability that they could be open to abuse by others, there are risks of loss of income, loss of home, and loss of wellness - unless someone intervenes. They may not even realise that they are getting themselves into this situation. If you are aware you have a need, you might be well enough not to receive support from your social worker.

Lesley shared a statistic that, in Brighton and Hove City, a total of 29 Deaf people will be receiving Direct Payment until they are well. That number is not expected to grow.

Brighton and Hove City Council will be opening Access Points with videophone technology to access staff through British Sign Language; an interpreter will be available through a computer screen. This is only for questions, requests and enquiries. The member of staff will then contact the dedicated professional for this work and it will be followed up. So all requests for equipment, that we normally receive through Sensory Needs Team, will now use the Access Point as the first point of contact.

Therefore Sensory Needs Team is no more. We are free to use, interact, complain about any department in Brighton and Hove City Council and NHS Trusts - they should all have access provisions in place. There is no social care team to intervene.

Frustrations also bring challenges; the pressure will be on the Deaf community to support their peers, as they have always done. To learn about how to stay healthy, to complain about discrimination, and challenge institutional apathy - to become equal citizens in Brighton and Hove City. The Third Sector have work to do and money to raise to empower Deaf people to 'stand up for themselves'.

In reality, the situation today is a little different. One member of the Our Space group shared his experience of visiting his local police station. He requested an interpreter and instead of booking one, he was diverted to the larger station in the city. The Deaf person has to pay more, travel further, wait longer to receive the same assistance as a hearing person; it is here that Deaf people's 'vulnerabilities' start. Without the interpreter present, how will that Deaf person even begin to challenge neglect and discrimination there and then.

The Personalisation Agenda is an empowering move and places the responsibility firmly with Deaf people and their community. Social care will be there when we most need it, even if we don't realise it, but when we are well enough, it is back to the daily grindstone of life.

Sources:

Brighton and Hove City Council leaflet

Quick Guide to Adult Social Care


Adult Social Care is Changing
Adult Social Care is Changing (140k)
Lesley D'Arcy-Garven

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